# Experiment using a potentiometer

• Taniaz
In summary, the experiment is trying to study the characteristics of a light bulb by varying the voltage across it. The first part of the experiment was successful, but the second part was tricky because the rheostat was not working. The ammeter was then used to measure the current drawn by the voltmeter, but it was difficult to find a good position for it. If the ammeter is still functional, the experiment is done.
Taniaz

## Homework Statement

In this experiment, we're trying to study the characteristics of a light bulb. Here are the steps outlined for us:
1. Use a potentiometer to vary the voltage across the bulb measured by the voltmeter V. Collect data of V-values and corresponding I'-values from the ammeter over the voltage range 0-12 V.

2. Remove the bulb from the circuit and repeat (1) using identical voltage values. The new current values i represent the current drawn by the voltmeter itself during part (1). Tabulate I' and i with corresponding V, then calculate the corrected values I = I' - i, tabulating these also.

R= v/I and P=VI

## The Attempt at a Solution

We are able to set the experiment for part (1) and we get the values required. For the second part, the only problem is, we are using a rheostat as a potentiometer so we've connected all three terminals of the rheostat. The bottom two terminals of the rheostat have been connected to the D.C power supply and then another connection was made to the voltmeter from the wiper to one of the bottom ends as well and we got ourselves a potential divider.

Now the only concern is where do we place the ammeter to be able to measure the current? We've tried different positions but most of the time, either the ammeter would work alone or the voltmeter, never together!

Since the instructions mention 'the current drawn by the voltmeter itself", it seems they want you to measure the current through a palallel circuit of bulb and voltmeter:

But in the second part they mention that we have to remove the bulb?

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Unplug the two plugs at the left end of the rheostat, but do not separate the plugs from each other (that is the black plug from the voltmeter and the red plug of the ammeter in the photo, they are plugged into the slider of the rheostat).
Now unplug the black plug of the ammeter at the other side of the rheostat (it is plugged into the other two red plugs).
Insert this plug where you removed the previous two plugs - that is into the slider of the rheostat.

The ammeter will now measure the current drawn by the voltmeter.

Where do I plug in the two plugs (the black plug from the voltmeter and the red plug of the ammeter) that I removed from the left side of the slider?

Ah I think I might have understood. As per my understanding, there's a direct connection from the positive end of the ammeter to the negative end of the voltmeter directly? And the negative end of the ammeter is connected to the left end of the slider? Is that correct?

In your above image of the setup, the ammeter looks to be connected in parallel with the voltmeter. This is shorting the voltmeter out. I think this is why both the meters do not work at the same time. I believe andrevdh's advice in #4 will solve your problem.

So I tried it again today with the corrections mentioned and the ammeter doesn't show any deflection at all.

The ammeter should be in series with the voltmeter if you want to measure the current drawn by the voltmeter.
Taniaz said:
the ammeter doesn't show any deflection at all.
That might be because of high voltmeter resistance. Measure the voltmeter resistance (it would be in the range of a few hundred kilo-ohms). You can theoretically calculate the voltmeter current using I=Vapplied/Rvoltmeter and see if it can be measured by the ammeter. What is the smallest current you can measure with the ammeter?

1. Remove the two plugs from the slider connection, but do not separate them from each other.
2. Remove the black ammeter wire from this point and insert it where you removed the previous two plugs, that is insert it into the rheostat slider plug.

Did you switch the ps on?
Any deflections on the meters?
If not you might have blown the ammeter or its fuse or maybe the power supply's fuse.
To check the ps remove any wires from it and use the voltmeter to measure its output.
If it is fine then the ammeter is probably blown.
You can test if the ammeter is still functional by restoring the light bulb circuit, alternatively get help from the person in charge.

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I quickly looked at the setup picture without following every lead.. It looks like the Voltmeter and ammeter are hooked up to the same points or nodes, this is not correct because the ammeter meter must be hooked in series with the branch or circuit to measure current and the volt meter must be hooked up in parallel across a branch or circuit to read the voltage!

Both meters seem to be hooked up in parallel.

Ammeters should have very low internal resistance and voltmeters shall have very high internal R's.

Again, the V meter and A meter cannot be hooked up the same, they must be hooked up in parallel and series..

Also, I have never seen a voltmeter and ammeter load down a equivalent DC circuit like yours if hooked up correctly, IOW, using both meters at the same time should not affect your measured results in this particular config..I doubt at this level they would want you to measure or calc. internal R's and such..Ya' never know though, there are some crazy teachers out there, I was one of em'...

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andrevdh said:
View attachment 107326
1. Remove the two plugs from the slider connection, but do not separate them from each other.
2. Remove the black ammeter wire from this point and insert it where you removed the previous two plugs, that is insert it into the rheostat slider plug.

Did you switch the ps on?
Any deflections on the meters?
If not you might have blown the ammeter or its fuse or maybe the power supply's fuse.
To check the ps remove any wires from it and use the voltmeter to measure its output.
If it is fine then the ammeter is probably blown.
You can test if the ammeter is still functional by restoring the light bulb circuit, alternatively get help from the person in charge.

Yes I did switch on the power supply, only the voltmeter needle deflected, not the ammeter. I took the ammeter out and tested it in another circuit and it was working. I even replaced it with a new ammeter and it didn't work either. The power supply was working as well (checked it separately). :/

cnh1995 said:
The ammeter should be in series with the voltmeter if you want to measure the current drawn by the voltmeter.

That might be because of high voltmeter resistance. Measure the voltmeter resistance (it would be in the range of a few hundred kilo-ohms). You can theoretically calculate the voltmeter current using I=Vapplied/Rvoltmeter and see if it can be measured by the ammeter. What is the smallest current you can measure with the ammeter?

Smallest current it can measure is 0 A. The range is 0-12 A.

Taniaz said:
Smallest current it can measure is 0 A. The range is 0-12 A.
No.. I meant its resolution. If the actual current is 1mA, is the meter able to read that small value? Or does it show 0? What is the value of the smallest division on the ammeter scale?

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Good point cnh. She probably needs a more sensitive ammeter then since the current might be rather small due to the large resistance of the voltmeter.
The one in the photo seems to measure up to 5A?

Ah yes sorry, it's maximum current is 5A and the smallest division is 0.1 A. I plugged in a multimeter for measuring in mA but even the multimeter was showing 0.

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cnh1995 said:
Measure the voltmeter resistance (it would be in the range of a few hundred kilo-ohms). You can theoretically calculate the voltmeter current using I=Vapplied/Rvoltmeter and see if it can be measured by the ammeter.
If the current comes out to be less than 100mA, the ammeter will read 0. (Neglect ammeter resistance here since it is very small).

So what should I do then? How can I read it with a multimeter?

Taniaz said:
So what should I do then? How can I read it with a multimeter?
Well, a digital multimeter should be able to read currents in mA. If it is showing 0, then the current is really small (in microamps).

I believe this is how you have connected your setup (values may differ). Try increasing supply voltage (if the experiment permits..). It all depends on the voltmeter resistance.

Taniaz said:
We are able to set the experiment for part (1) and we get the values required
So you found some currents and are able to draw a plot of I (vertical) versus V (horizontal) ? And the light bulb actually functioned (gave more light with higher voltage) ?

Analog meters like the ones you are using are in fact current meters with a sensitivity of 50 ##\mu##A full scale. So a voltmeter with 10 V full scale is made out of such a device by putting it in series with a 200 000 ##\Omega## resistor. At 10 V there is a current of 50 ##\mu##A that you can't measure with an ammeter with 5 A full scale.

(The ammeter is a similar meter with a very small parallel resistance: e.g. if the 50 ##\mu##A meter has a resistance of 100 ##\Omega## the voltage drop over the meter is 5 mV at full scale; so they place a parallel resistance of 0.5 ##m\Omega##)

To check these numbers you could use a multimeter to measure the resistance of the voltmeter.

Well it seems you can ignore the current correction then and just proceed with plotting the measurements since the i values is very small with respect to the measured current with the light bulb.

cnh1995
andrevdh said:
Well it seems you can ignore the current correction then and just proceed with plotting the measurements since the i values is very small with respect to the measured current with the light bulb.

That's what we actually ended up doing :/ We get a straight line then a curve (positive quadrant) , just like the characteristic of a filament lamp.

You should maybe just mention a possible upper limit to the current in the voltmeter in your report.
It seems the person who wrote the lab notes might not have done the experiment, but it is still
good to know that one have to be on the lookout for such possible corrections to one's measurements.

So I'm still not getting anything despite using a multimeter as well. I replaced the ammeter with the multimeter (exact same connections) but still no luck. I plugged the wires into the ground for the multimeter and V Ω mA for the second lead. Are these connections correct? When I connect the multimeter in parallel to the voltmeter I get the same voltage as on the voltmeter but when I connect it in series (same connections as analogue ammeter), it reads 0.00 whether it's set to μA, mA etc.

Is this correct? I don't get any resistance or current

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Taniaz said:
Is this correct? I don't get any resistance or current
Did you measure the voltmeter resistance? How much is it?

Can you tell me if this connection is correct? Because this was giving me nothing.
When I connected the multimeter in parallel to the voltmeter, the multimeter would give me the correct voltage, current was still 0 and the resistance was showing as -1700 ohms?

Taniaz said:
Can you tell me if this connection is correct?
It looks correct to me. The multimeter is in series with the voltmeter and it should show the current drawn by the voltmeter.
Taniaz said:
and the resistance was showing as -1700 ohms?
For measuring the voltmeter resistance, isolate the voltmeter from the circuit and then measure its resistance. It should be in the order of a few hundred kilo-ohms. What voltage is the voltmeter showing in this arrangement?

That's the thing the voltmeter stopped working with this arrangement

Taniaz said:
That's the thing the voltmeter stopped working with this arrangement
You mean in your above setup, when the multimeter is in series with the voltmeter, the voltmeter is showing 0V? If yes, then I think the voltmeter is damaged. In your above setup, the voltmeter should show some voltage.

The voltmeter is working alright. The minute you disconnect the the multimeter it works. It was the same problem with the analogue ammeter. It shows some voltage as you move the wiper but I'm not sure whether that's correct because when the wiper is at the center of the rheostat, the voltage should be 3 V (half of what the power supply is set at).

SO when I connect the multimeter as such, I get readings.
BUT when I force the probes into the voltmeter real tight, the voltage goes up by a lot and the multimeter stops working so I presume I should just let them mildly touch. I hope this is correct. I'm only getting readings of upto 2 V maximum even though the power supply is at 6 V.

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I still say both meters are hooked up in parallel...IF this is the case, well...I've said it too many times here already...

If they are, according to the photo, You are chasing the wrong dogs like internal resistances of a perfectly good meter, load etc, as some peeps have suggested...In over 20 years of lab work I have never seen a "bad meter". unless on of the cells went internally weak inside the meter, but that is rare..If it can max out via adjustment, in the resistance mode, it is good...

Would be nice if I could verify the connections to the variable resistor with a different picture angle..I cannot see clearly if there is a wire connected to the top slider of the variable resistor...Are you must be aware that a "Pot" can be hooked up as a rheostat (current divider) or a Potentiometer, (voltage divider)?
.

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Electron Spin said:
I still say both meters are hooked up in parallel...IF this is the case, well...I've said it too many times here already...

You are chasing the wrong dogs like internal resistances of a perfectly good meter, load etc...

Would be nice if I could verify the connections to the variable resistor with a different picture angle..

See that's the thing, with a series connection as in the picture in post 25 registers nothing at all. The variable resistor is being used as a potential divider so two connections are made to the power supply and one connection from the wiper to the voltmeter.

This test schematic is correct...This one right here.
Taniaz said:
See that's the thing, with a series connection as in the picture in post 25 registers nothing at all. The variable resistor is being used as a potential divider so two connections are made to the power supply and one connection from the wiper to the voltmeter.

I cannot see the connection on the other side of the slider...so how can I comment?

Have you done point to point voltage checks whilst moving the slider to different positions? I have seen a lot of large pots have many dead spots due to arcing but that was always in very high power applications as in RF. :+50KV.

Again, it looks like the ammeter is hooked up in parallel... But without seeing it in a better light..I would be assuming...

Concerning your color leads, right now you have two that are swapped, which does makes it a bit more confusing when troubleshooting at a 2 dimensional picture.

Again, With that picture angle I cannot verify the slider connection.

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